Wednesday, October 28, 2009


I’ve been home sick for the last 3 days. It’s the kind of sick that leaves me too tired to do much more than cross the room but it’s not like I’m puking or sweating out a fever either. This has left me with a lot of time to, well, ponder. THAT can be a very scary thing. TRUST me. I’ve also had a lot of time to observe. I’ve observed what the stress of a late harvest does to my husband’s demeanor. (Try as he may to remain unaffected). I’ve observed what the thrill of the spotlight has done for my daughter. She loves play practice and whatever took place during that time seems to come spilling out of her the moment she walks in the door. I’ve noticed what really fitting in has done for my middle son who has settled well into the social climate of the sophomore class. SO much less angst than there was last year. My youngest daughter revels in the attention she readily receives from her zany comments and silliness. It’s clear to see that being in the seventh grade has rendered her a bit self conscious and unsure of how to act. Thus the crazy Hannah Montana mimicking that, frankly, gets a bit tired. After all if you’re not sure of your identity yet, why not steal someone else’s right? My youngest son has finally broken into a time of life when we all go to watch HIM do things. Football, basketball, speech, band and choir have us pursuing his schedule now and after following along with the four who’ve gone before him, he finally feels he’s arrived. And my oldest son. Wow. He’s almost a man. He’ll be 17 in a month and I can hardly believe the confident and mature individual he’s become. He’s receiving all kinds of praise at work for his efforts and hunting season is upon him. In his world nothing could be more “right”.

All of this observing left me wondering, are we all so reactionary? I would think if it holds true in my home, it probably does in yours as well right? What I’m trying to articulate is that as I look over what I just wrote I realize that we are all SO affected by outside forces. The season of our lives, the input from the people who surround us, our age, our social circle, the activities we’re involved in, the pressures of our work. These things affect us. Of course they do. That’s normal. I guess.

But, it leads me to wonder…if we weren’t surrounded by so much outside stimuli what would our personalities be? Of course, I don’t want to be a hermit. I realize that the lack of stimuli has basically the same affect in that it HAS an affect, but I’m trying to get at something deeper.

We’ve all had those days where we start out feeling good. We have breakfast and get ready for whatever might be going on. We look in the mirror and perhaps for this day aren’t terribly unhappy with the reflection. We make time for devotions and feel empowered and refreshed. All seems right with the world and then BAMM… something happens. A co-worker makes a rude comment. A sibling calls with a family issue. Someone rear ends us in the parking lot. Our mood changes. Our whole outlook changes. And the people around us have to deal with it. Sometimes these things last for a day and other times we find ourselves in a season of affect.

I started to look over my life. I thought about all the components that affect me. I wondered why I gave these things so much power over me. I pondered whether it was within my grasp to remain unaffected. And, I came to the unsettling conclusion that it is not.

There is a girl I’m not sure I want my middle son to date. It looks very possible that it will happen. I know that will affect me. I really want my oldest son to achieve great grades and ACT scores this year as he prepares for school. What he chooses will affect me either way. My youngest daughter lives for volleyball. How tryouts go this January will affect her so much… and via her.. me.

And that’s just a sampling of my family, one aspect, (albeit the largest) of my life.

So as I observe this week from my sickly perch on the sunlit couch I wonder this; “Who is it God intends for me to be each day? Does He intend for the reactionary Cherie, who is so very affected by her circumstance? Or does He intend for something other? I wonder who Cherie really is… if she isn’t who everything else affects her to be?” Hmmmm…it’s interesting.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Scared Speechless

I’ve been asked to tell “my story” to a group of women for a Christmas Luncheon. Over the past couple of years I felt like I had been led to pray about speaking engagements. I was challenged to accept whatever came my way. BUT…. I wasn’t really sure I wanted God to open that door. I suppose that was why it was so challenging. I didn’t exactly make it public knowledge, this leading. I guess I figured I was pretty safe accepting that challenge because I didn’t tell anyone I what I was being led to consider. But it now appears that God… did. And now that He went and opened that door I’m wondering if it would be okay to just close it up again. I wouldn’t just slam it in His face or anything. I would just very gently sneak around the backside and slowly creak the door back closed.

The thing is, I don’t like to speak. I’m a rambler. I tend to really get going once I open my mouth. Give me a mike ( oh my word, I shudder to remember the one time someone gave me a mike) and I will ramble at will incoherently ‘till the guy with the hook comes out.

I do like to write. I suppose that’s partly because when you write and you realize that you’re workin’ up a good ramble, you have only to highlight and cut and phew… saved face.

I know what you’re thinking. Write your talk out … then read it. Yep. That’s a great idea. In theory. But I’ve tried that. I panic and I NEVER look up from that paper. It’s not very engaging.

And then there’s the whole problem of what to say. I mean really!! Sure I have a story. I get that. We all do. But is mine interesting or important enough to hold a captive audience? I fear I’m doomed to stare into a sea of disinterested feminine faces who are all making mental to do lists while I ramble. Who could blame them?

Yes, I hear you thinking. “Wow, Cherie, this is probably supposed to be about God isn’t it? Why are you making it all about yourself?”

I know. You’re right.

Will you pray please that I’m able to do just that?

He didn’t ask me to write. He asked me to speak.

So that’s what I’m going to do.


Sunday, October 11, 2009


“In those days, though, spring always came finally but it was frightening that it had nearly failed.” Ernest Hemmingway A Moveable Feast

We all go through seasons. Right now my children are going through seasons of excitement, of learning, a time when everything they experience is new and thrilling. I have some friends at retirement age who experience a time of contentment and ease right now; a time when life offers just enough leisure to allow a person to enjoy the moments. I know others who are in times that feel unsettled. Great longings seem to go unnoticed; at the very least unanswered by a God who seems, if not removed, uninterested in the desires of their hearts.
I also know those who endure pain in the moment to moment way of persons who know great loss. These are souls in suffering. Hearts in turmoil. They wait in desperation for a spring that seems to “nearly fail”.
I guess we’ve all experienced seasons like that haven’t we? We wait and we hope for things to get better. Do we believe it will? Yes, I suppose as those who’ve become a new creation we do.

And yet.

I was reading A Moveable Feast tonight and became engulfed in Hemmingway’s description of Paris in the last depths of a long, hard, winter ; when there settled over the city a near panic that the desolation of the season wouldn’t end. He describes that time as a time when “it would seem you were losing a season of your life”. As I slid my bookmark into place I began to wonder… “ Is it possible that there are times when the sorrow, or the fear; the pain or the great loneliness is not merely the passage of a season but also the loss of one?
Can a person lose out on the experience of one season because they cannot see outside of the experience of another?
During the time that followed the tragic death of my son I most certainly seem to have lost a season. So many things went on. The world kept spinning in a way that seemed almost to mock me as it said “Surely daytime and night… summer and winter will never cease.” Yet I ceased to experience them. For me I suppose there was a very real sense of missing a season of my life…in favor of… or at least in deference to another one.

And yet.

Tonight, with Hemmingway’s thoughts on Paris still fresh in my mind, I read through the caring bridge sites of loved ones and a new light began to dawn. What if the season we miss out on becomes the defining season in the lives of those we love? What if Friend A’s son’s difficult diagnosis becomes her other son’s defining season in that he learns compassion and understanding first hand? What if friend B’s son’s limited life expectancy and profound disabilities become her other children’s defining seasons in which they learn to lean hard on Hope? What if Friend C’s husbands struggle with sudden and terminal cancer becomes her daughter’s defining season? The one in which they come to know a God who truly is a Father in every practical sense of the word?
Do we all miss out on seasons? Yes. Depression, loss, financial ruin, crisis’ of faith, anger, resentment, pain, sorrow, even unfounded bliss do cause some of us at one time or another to be removed from life.
God seems to have intended a purpose for these times when we cannot connect; when we’re so busy with the work of making new pathways of connection. It would appear that He intends for our absence to be a defining moment for someone else. Most often for someone we love. A season they need to experience. A time that will build in them an essential aspect of their character; an aspect that they will share with the world… and that is needed.
It was a moment of clarity to realize that as I read the journal updates. So easy to see when you’re not encumbered with mommy guilt. When you can just see things as they stand in someone else’s life.

And yet.

If I can see this amazing and beautiful truth in their lives… surely… it stands to reason… that it would be true in mine…. and yours.
Spring did come for me after Tristan died, but not without the sense that I had lost a season. And my kids, my family and my friends may have missed me for a bit but they were being tended to by a God who held all our seasons in the palm of His hand. A God who was intent and purposeful about those moments with them.
There were so many times I wanted to cry out and ask God to just stop the world for a while so that I could go about the business of grieving and not miss out or feel pulled back toward life being lived. But the seasons just kept coming. And somewhere between the falling of the leaves and the piling of the snow there came a peace in knowing that spring too would eventually dawn … and that I would be there to experience it.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

For a Moment

There are moments in life when you get a chance to do something really extraordinary. You get to benefit someone somehow. You are involved in something important. You witness healing and are able to add something to it. These are moments you expect to be remarkable.

And then there are moments in life when you reach out somehow, with some infinitesimal measure of concern or kindness. You do or say or give something you know can barely matter and yet you do it because it’s yours to do. You feel powerless to offer anything in the face of pain or sorrow. These are moments you expect to be unremarkable.

But sometimes… sometimes the smallest of things become the most meaningful.

And the grandest of gestures seem to pale in insignificance.

The ways I intended this day were not the ways God used. Of course it stands to reason and, in this case is true then, that the things I knew were too small to matter seemed to be used in the most beautiful sense. It’s humbling. It’s so humbling to sit once again in the quietest part of the day and look back in marvel at how little any of it ever had to do with me.

There was “pain in the offering tonight”. But I also got in on “something beautiful”! It was just as I had expected it to be…. only, in reverse.

I guess I sort of get that. If it ever began to depend on me, I suppose I would cave under the pressure. But God will bless what He blesses and withhold from what He withholds. The outcome isn’t necessarily the point. At least it can’t be as far as it concerns me. The point is the obedience. And even though it hurts when all the hard work doesn’t pay off I would risk it all over again. Because sometimes…sometimes the almost effortless thing makes an impact so beautiful, so meaningful that everything else fades away.

For a moment.